Tree trimming by yourself? DIY Tree Care Safety


Unless you are properly trained, DIY tree service is never going to be a good idea. That said, who knows what emergency is going to arise with our ever-more-erratic weather patterns?
Here are basic tips for extreme situations.

Incredible erratic weather incidents have created emergency situations and outrageous tree service rates all over North America in the past few years.
Storm condition trimming and removal causes many injuries – which is why the rates are so high.

DON’T climb frozen trees to remove a branch.
Wait or call an expert.

Electrocutions are also a major cause of fatalities for arborists- professional and amateur.
If using a pole saw be aware of powerlines, and of branches snapping back and pushing the saw into utility lines.

Fall protection is required when working from a height of 6 feet.

Got more questions about fall protection or arborist safety?

Follow @AspenArbo on Twitter.
They are happy to answer questions.

Finding a Denver Colorado arborist

A reputable Denver arborist offers clients tree consulting services.  Whether you’re looking for tree removal, tree trimming or need a consulting arborist, it pays to make sure they know which trees are legal to remove and which ones are illegal in the county of Denver.

While you don’t need to be a licensed tree service in Colorado, you do in the City of  Denver.  An arborist is certified by the ISA or sometimes ASCA.  A tree service may be a  member of the TCIA which was formerly the National Arborist Association.

Browse or search for Colorado arborists on the ISA Rocky Mountain Chapter site.

Search for Colorado arborists on the ASCA site.

Other organizations of note to look for qualified vendors especially for Denver lawn services and Denver tree service include the Colorado Lawn Professionals.

All five of the local counties in Denver offer free arborist resources. Jefferson County, CO works with Red Rocks Community College and the Horticultural Program at Front Range to help train volunteers and certify landscaping pros.

More Colorado arborist information.

A local arborist told me to wait until January to trim my crabapple tree. Is this accurate?

Answer: Definitely. In fact, crabapple, elms, hawthorn and most ornamental fruit trees are best trimmed ONLY in January because at this time they are dormant. These tree species are prone to blight, Dutch elm and other airborne disease. Since they are not growing, there is virtually no chance of the tree spreading or contracting a life threatening fungal disease.

image of a crabapple tree heavy with fruit.
Please don’t trim me until deep winter!

It should be a law to only trim these trees in winter as doing otherwise can damage your neighbor’s private property. Beware, many self proclaimed arborists have no idea that this is proper procedure – or just don’t care.

Will cold and early soil freezes damage tree roots?

Answer: If temperatures get lower than normal, shallow-rooted trees
such as honey locust and silver maple are prone to root
damage on the nodes, which extend from the tip to the
first twigs on a branch.

If you have trees that seem drought-stressed or otherwise
look scraggly, and you have not been watering during the winter,
now may be the time to start.

In Denver, trees have not had the best year and there’s
significant evidence that late spring and early fall freezes
damaged root systems, especially of street locust
and ash trees.

That makes it harder to compete for water in suburban sites.

Ask an Arborist in Tampa, Florida

Finding a Tampa Florida Arborist

How do you find a Tampa consulting arborist or a tree service? Before you go looking for an arborist, here are some recent posts from our site that might help your Tampa Bay area tree care.

Tampa, FL Arborist Information – This page has the phone numbers for the Hillsborough county lawn and garden extension office. There are three in the Tampa Bay Area.

How To Care For Palm Trees – Basics of palm tree fertilization, palm tree pruning and unique issues.

Tips for Taking Care of a Minneola tangelo –  These can be fun trees and the fruit can be good if you cultivate it correctly.

When you need a tree trimming, an ISA certified tree pro is usually a good bet.  When you contact a tree service,  it’s nice to see a Florida ISA logo.  Whether you’re looking for tree removal, tree trimming or need a consulting arborist,  it pays to make sure they know which trees are legal to remove and which ones are illegal in Tampa and central Florida.   For example, oaks, pines and elms greater than 5 inches in diameter, measured 4 and a half feet up from the base, require a permit.

Sabal Palm – The State Tree of Florida


An arborist is an advocate for your trees. They stay current with at least 30 hours of continuing education units (CEU) every 3 years. The best arborists exceed that.

Like any consultant, an  arborist who publishes frequently, teaches horticulture at a local college or is a member of a smaller but more elite professional organization called the American Society of Consulting Arborists (ASCA),  are good indicators of quality.

Arborist Facts for Tampa

  • There are only 16 arborists with the Municipal Specialist certification in the State of Florida according to Trees Plus in Santa Rosa County, FL
  • Tampa Bay Area is the lightning capital of the nation.  In 1994, there were 50,000 cloud to land strikes in Tampa.
  • Some arborists in Tampa offer lightning protection for your trees.

Ask An Arborist
701 S Howard Ave. #106
Tampa, FL 33606

Is maple tree pruning ok in the fall?

Answer: No, because they will “bleed” or drop sap like crazy from the pruning cuts.  Later spring and summer are better times.

To be more precise, bleeding is most likely to occur when trimming maple trees just before and right after winter.  Studies indicate that “bleeding” doesn’t hurt the tree. It’s more of a cosmetic issue. And it can be hard to get off cars. If you want to prune maples without bleeding, it must be pruned:

  • when it is fully dormant in the middle of winter.
  • during the late spring or summer when it’s in full leaf.

Thanks to

####  Get a free tree trimming quote ####

Ask an Arborist in Dallas, Texas

Finding a Dallas Texas arborist

A Dallas arborist can offer you tree and landscape valuations, landscape and tree insurance expertise, feasibility studies and arborist consulting services.

Dallas Texas passed Article X in 1994, making the removal of many types of trees illegal.  When you hire a consulting arborist in Dallas, they must know the in and outs of these provisions. Call us with questions at (972) 379-8426.

It can cost $200 a day if your property doesn’t pass a landscape inspection in Dallas.  So it pays to work with an arborist who knows the rules and regulations of Article X and what they’re doing.

Request a free quote from a Dallas tree removal expert.

Trimming trees in Dallas enhances the safety, health and aesthetics of your trees.

When you hire a tree company you should expect:

  • Fair prices
  • Punctuality
  • Clear expectations
  • Transparency

If you check out customer reviews past clients should be saying that their trees looked better and the yard was so clean it’s like no one had been there. Any reputable company will have a guarantee.

You can also visit the Dallas city website for details about tree removal in Dallas.

Whether you’re looking for tree removal, tree trimming, or need a consulting arborist for general advice, it pays to make sure that the arborist knows which trees are legal to remove and which ones are illegal.

It also helps to know good trees to plant in Dallas. An ISA certified arborist will certainly know that, so check out ISA Texas.

3824 Cedar Springs Road
Dallas, TX 75219

What is tree topping?

tree-toppingAnswer: Tree topping is the total cutting of limbs back to a stub, according to the ISA arborists at Old Town Tree, a tree service in Huntsville, AL. The following article is taken from their website.

Homeowners who do this to their trees do not realize the consequences. Not only is topping the most harmful tree pruning practice known, but it also ends up being VERY expensive in the long run.

The best way to describe tree topping is in terms of trimming your fingernails by cutting off your hand –  somewhere between your wrist and your elbow. Of course, this is drastic, but it’s an accurate analogy.

Topping is not a recognized or accepted tree care practice within the industry, and it only solves a short term problem, usually with unforeseen long-term consequences.

Take for example, the photo above. Why was this tree topped? This tree was in the middle of a yard, posing no threat. And unfortunately this tree will never regain its full health and natural vitality. In fact, this tree has received a death sentence. The indiscriminate cuts will have a tendency to decay faster; and new growth shoots will be greater in number, but weakly attached, making them more prone to failure. Prior to topping, the tree’s branches and limbs were strong and healthy. Hereafter, there will be numerous weakly attached limbs.
And by the way, this tree is ugly now. Who would argue?

This is by no means a weight-reduction tactic either. There will actually be an increase in limb weight within a few years. Also, where the nubs begin to grow new shoots, this is an ideal environment for wildlife habitat, such as squirrels. These squirrels’ nests will have a tendency to hold in moisture – which can lead to decay.

The actual cost of topping a tree can last for years. First, there is the cost of the actual topping, or as I like to refer to it “The issuance of the death sentence”.
Once failure and decay have set in, there will be another cost for removal and cleanup.

Homeowners who pay for this type of service must be very good friends with their current tree contractor, because once a tree is topped, they will inevitably need to return to carry out the rest of the death sentence.

What goes into pruning an apple tree? (case study)

What goes into pruning an apple tree? (case study)

Answer – Here is a case study from our Massachusetts arborist friend Brian Thiebault about an apple tree pruning he did in Maine.

The apple trees that I referred to were in Bowdoinham, Maine. I attend college an hour north of there in Unity (at Unity College). The guy wanted them reduced to hand-picking height, and they were quite tall.

His yard comprised part of an abandoned orchard (there are a lot of them in Maine). The trees hadn’t been pruned for production in over 15 years, and were all severely crowded.

I basically cut out all but a few sucker tops to try and restore leader dominance, and prevent too much vertical competition in the future. Then, I thinned the remaining fruit-bearing branches. I pruned the trees a little later than I initially wanted (March), but the buds hadn’t started swelling yet, so it was still healthy for the tree.

This was initially more of a fun experiment, as he just wanted apples for their great qualities in making…drinks. But it turned out to be a very informative prune for me. All of my apple tree pruning had great results. I did notice, however, that the thinning could have waited a year, and that I was a little over-zealous.

Either way, the trees didn’t mind and responded wonderfully, as I’ve observed over a one-plus year period. What I have noticed, as I have done a few small commercial orchards, is that apples are VERY resilient, and love to be pruned hard.

As an example, there are even some long-forgotten stems in this guy’s yard that have managed to survive, and now, we are going to take those 50 year old trunks and start them all over again from that old wood with just a few suckers.

I would like to point out something that was mentioned in a comment about topped trees. Kind of a disclaimer for my methods. I firmly believe topping is not an acceptable practice, and that even though my methods above seem like topping, and in some cases remove more than the recommended amount of branches, it doesn’t apply in this particular case due to the fact that they will never become a safety hazard.

Topping is a concern where future structural defects due to the extreme cutting will lead to catastrophic failure in large trees. These particular apple trees are not so large as to pose a safety concern. If a branch breaks due to poor branch attachment, you lose some apples, not a life.

Restorative apple tree pruning would have never been worth it on a commercial level for an orchard. But for a guy who is willing to fool around with some old trees in his backyard as opposed to planting new ones, it makes for an excellent case study.

I reduced each of the three leaders to the healthiest horizontal branch available. With apples, it’s not about the amount of branching left, it’s about the structure of it (if you’re pruning for production, that is).

One last note: with these trees all being so close, they are most certainly root-grafted to each other. So you need to look at them all as a whole system – and the fact that some got pruned hard, while others not at all, allows the ones that didn’t get pruned to feed the ones that did.

Just think of each tree as an individual branch on a larger tree.

Thank you for posting my thoughts!